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Friday, November 28
Kirk fifth after women's short program

Associated Press

ASAHIKAWA, Japan -- Former world champions Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov of Russia won the pairs at the NHK Trophy on Friday with a nearly flawless performance.

The U.S. team of Rena Inoue and John Baldwin Jr. finished fourth.

In the women's short program, Elena Liashenko of Ukraine recovered from an early mistake to take the lead. Fumie Suguri and Yoshie Onda, both of Japan, were second and third.

Jennifer Kirk of the United States was fifth but in contention for a berth in the Dec. 12-14 Grand Prix Final in Colorado Springs, Colo. The women's program concludes Saturday with the free skate.

Petrova and Tikhonov, who led after Thursday's short program, earned 181.96 points.

"We skated well considering Maria had food poisoning yesterday, and all we missed was the triple salchow," Tikhonov said.

The 2000 world champions were followed by Canada's Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto and Poland's Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek. The Canadians qualified for the Grand Prix final.

Liashenko fell after her second maneuver, a triple flip, and earned 58.20 points.

Kirk stumbled in her opening maneuver, a triple toe-triple toe combination, and finished with 51.36 points.

"I was upset with myself," Kirk said. "My spins weren't as good as they should have been."

Kirk is sixth in the overall standings and still has a chance to win under the new scoring system, which is based on cumulative points for jumps, spins and step work.

The NHK is the last of the six regular events under the new scoring system. The Grand Prix final will also be under the new system, but the major championships revert to traditional 6.0 scores.

The NHK will determine the remaining places for the final. After Sunday's events, the top six qualify.

In ice dancing, Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria, who have qualified for the Grand Prix final, finished first in the original dance. The U.S. team of Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell was sixth. The free dance is Saturday.

Timothy Goebel of the United States will be looking for his second victory of the season when the men's event starts Saturday.